Design a mobile product experience that appeals to millennials that makes it safe to find the ideal roommate in New York City.
Scenarios: a person looking for a roommate and another looking for a place to live;
Identify, and highlight ways to solve both journeys’s pain points;
What could be done to make the living experience better, when living together;
Product: Mobile application.
After reading the brief, I broke up the requests into action items, starting the design process with research on the target audience, and what they need in this “Finding a Roommate” context.
I also gathered information on the city of New York, city planning, mobility, safety, and behaviors from the audience in the city environment.
Technology is also part of this project, understanding what the city provides, how users interact with digital devices, applications, data service (including reliability, capacity, coverage), and how it affects and disrupts their daily lives.
Millennials in NY
with a Smartphone
Millennials represent the last generation and the first one to be raised with the bread of the information age during a technological evolution, between the early 1980s and mid-1990s. Financially independent, they make up a great part of the workforce, representing a quarter of the world’s population with an enormous degree of spending power.
Financial and Garment Districts, Long Island, Downtown Manhattan, and Soho are the neighborhoods with the largest share of millennials, with restaurants and bars nearby. The income of people living in these neighborhoods is around 150k/year.
Millennials profit from the city’s resources and infrastructure, designed with good transportation, wifi availability (even in the subway), modern interactive spaces, and employment potential which make for vibrant city living.
New York & Millenials
Lifestyle & Habits
New York has been known to include a diverse group of people with unique characteristics. Depending on their lifestyles, many millennials spend more time online via mobile than personal computer/tablet, however, they haven’t given up traditional forms of entertainment just yet, after social networks, music and streaming TV are on the rise as well.
Connected on their phones most of the time
Little, but valuable time to Socialize
Consuming Information on the go
Keywords divided by topic, thinking about individual needs and possible pain points,
Millennials usually work full-time, in many cases, having to commute and from work, responsible, having to run errands and, of course, taking time for self-care, and having a social life.
Process: 15h/month to find a new place to live
Online & Digital Habits
There are four main ways for users to interact with their phones and get informed:
Connected most of the time when deepening understanding on news, TV shows, and social media.
Starting the day and getting the latest news in the most used apps, switching when relevant.
Takes the free time to get updated, while commuting or any gaps in the schedule can be an opportunity to get informed.
At any time of the day, when receive text notifications, briefly switching the mindset to a title of an article or a friend’s invitation.
Millennials optimize their time by using applications on their phones. They are connected most of the time, acquiring offline applications and content in case data service is not available.
Most Used Applications
These are the top applications used by millennials, and the percentage of a day that is spend on each of them/
They stay up-to-date by reading news, books, catching up with friends and work, getting updated on news applications, shopping online, ordering food, seeking entertainment options, planning their schedule, & trying to find a soulmate.
Brainstorm & Research
Ways to find roommates
In order to find a reliable and trustworthy roommate in an environment that is safe, it’s hard to find a website or mobile app that takes care of the job, providing good recommendations with references, running background checks, finding out if the person involved is financially stable and reliable.
Craigslist is still one of the top sites used, as those looking for roommates post a brief introduction of the affable room, pictures, and their personal contact information to prospects.
Direct referrals bring more confidence to both parts. Having a familiar face introducing to each other makes the connection more seamless, and knowing where they’re from, it’s possible to have a better understanding of habits and lifestyle, having a higher chance to find a good mate.
Facebook open or closed groups are also a growing source for finding roommates/apartments. Usually entry into closed groups are through invitation, providing a pre-filter to a smaller group of contacts within a community. People who post the apartment can view if they have friends in common with prospects who are interested in renting the space. If there are common contacts, they can ask friends to check if the prospect is safe, reliable, etc.
Before welcoming a new roommate or moving into a place, there is a timeline and paperwork to follow. The entire process usually starts 30 days before the move-in date:
Plan of action
Looking for a roommate in a big city, can be logistically challenging: finding the time, arranging all the tasks that are needed, exchanging messages, open the house to meet people interested, filtering options until the likely right person is found.
One side needs to take care of taking pictures of the place, talk to the landlord, review the contract, etc. The other side needs to check possible places that can be a good fit, filtering neighborhoods, calculating commute time, and creating a profile that can sum up their wants and needs in the new house.
Both parts need to adjust the schedule to find a fit into the timeline needed (usually 30 days), with a decision or not. Having to do it multiple times until they find the right fit.
The app sums up the tasks that can be automated, and the final user would have to review the options and decide to proceed. The app would find time and take care of the necessary documentation
To exemplify the application in action, let’s use Lori, Jason and Abby as an stories, from the moment they found out they needed roommates, to the point they found and selected each other as a house mate.
Lori & Jason
They both work in tech, and more than 8 years working in the industry, spending a lot of time out of the house for work, travel, and socializing. In order to review the applications, they have to adapt their morning schedule, to discuss the candidate’s background and lifestyle, prior to invite them to check the property.
Abby had a job promotion and has to move to New York from New Jersey. She had started her career as a fashion designer not so long ago and is looking for an exciting space to live. However, her employer gives her 1 week to find a place before she is transferred to the big city. By spending most of the time outside New York, she might find challenging to find a perfect place.
Introduction, similar patterns, possible outcomes.
What can be automized/taken care of in the background?
Schedule meetings, match common interests and what else?
In a nutshell, breaking up into topics right next to ihe bar.
How to fit the schedule, Find a good match to live with, having common interestd, share a space, share responsibilities and time with? and keep it even after moving out. Landlord Profile / Upload Documents / Chat / Important Dates / Shopping List / Common Activities (Recommendations) / Schedule
Log In &
Login with existing accounts, adding credibility and lifestyle overview. Eg. Instagram, Spotify, Facebook Communities in Common. Verification of identity, work, avoiding scams and losing time looking for people’s reputation.
By creating a profile that users can add their personal information, what they are looking for, sharing some contacts for referrals, and work information can be used also as a verification filter to match with relevant and possible connections. Bringing these connections and profile “matches”, it can clarify if the living dynamics are likely to be enjoyable, by sharing interests and activities together.
Real Time Feedback
As seen in many applications already used by the audience, notifications and instant messages can be checked on the go, and not completely shifting the attention to an irrelevant topic. By sharing matching lifestyle choices and information in a bite-size format, users can have more peace of mind as if they have an assistant taking care of the tedious part of the search.